Who are the candidates to become Phillies' GM?

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Veteran baseball executive Andy MacPhail speaks at a news conference before a baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Milwaukee Brewers, Monday, June 29, 2015, in Philadelphia. The Phillies hired MacPhail to serve as a special assistant to team president Pat Gillick for the rest of this season, then take over as team president once the season is finished. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

THE MILWAUKEE Brewers filled their general manager vacancy a week ago, when they hired 30-year-old David Stearns.

The Red Sox also found a GM to work under new president Dave Dombrowski last week in the person of Mike Hazen. Yesterday, the Seattle Mariners hired former Los Angeles Angels GM Jerry Dipoto.

Batter up, Mr. MacPhail?

The Phillies' season ends in five days. What follows, "in earnest," according to incoming team president Andy MacPhail, will be an extensive search for the replacement for Ruben Amaro Jr. as general manager in the changing front office at One Citizens Bank Way.

A week ago, MacPhail restated his goal of hiring that person before the team's organizational meetings at the end of October. Despite waiting until the season ends, MacPhail said he was "pretty confident" there would still be "a lot of talent out there," despite other teams filling their own GM vacancies before October.

MacPhail wisely said he wouldn't "pigeonhole" himself into looking for only one specific type of baseball executive, but ownership partner John Middleton dropped the word "sabermetrics" twice in his introduction of MacPhail three months ago. So you can place a pretty smart bet that the next Phillies general manager will have a strong background in analytics.

"I can assure you . . . sabermetrics is something of intense interest of the ownership," MacPhail said at the time.

MacPhail also went on to say that he was "no expert" in that particular field, but that to succeed, "you have to hire people to do the things if you don't have that background."

Another very educated guess: The Phillies almost certainly will hire an outsider. Middleton is on the record about how "important" it is for the team to bring in "new blood in, new ideas."

How about a handful of people who could fit that criteria and emerge as MacPhail's top candidates?

Matt Klentak

Klentak, 35, is arguably considered the favorite for the job, if for no other reason than his previous work with the man making the hire. In 2008, six years after earning a degree in economics at Dartmouth, Klentak was hired by MacPhail to be the Baltimore Orioles' director of baseball operations.

Klentak left the Orioles shortly after MacPhail resigned from the team and has worked for the last four years as an assistant GM with the Los Angeles Angels. He is among at least a half-dozen candidates for the Angels' GM opening.

J.J. Picollo

Picollo, 44, is a rising executive in baseball circles, thanks to the meteoric success the Kansas City Royals have enjoyed in the last two seasons. The Cherry Hill, N.J., native has been in the Royals' front office for nine years; he was promoted to vice president/assistant general manager, player personnel in January.

For the previous seven seasons, Picollo was an assistant GM in charge of scouting and player development, when young players such as Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer matured into productive everyday players. Picollo, a George Mason grad, is one of a decent crop of potential Phillies GM candidates with local ties, a group that includes Chaim Bloom (Tampa Bay Rays/Philadelphia), John Barr (San Francisco Giants/Haddonfield, N.J.), and Jeff Kingston (Seattle Mariners/Moorestown, N.J.).

Thad Levine

Levine, the 43-year-old assistant general manager of the Texas Rangers, also has ties to the Philadelphia area. He graduated from Haverford College. Levine has worked under Jon Daniels with the Rangers in each of the last 10 seasons, handling a variety of responsibilities, including overseeing the organization's international scouting department, assisting with player acquisitions, roster composition, contract negotiations, and statistical and financial analyses.

Levine was the Colorado Rockies' senior director of baseball operations in 2005, a year they selected Troy Tulowitzki with the seventh overall pick in the draft.

Billy Eppler

Eppler, 40, has worked in the New York Yankees' front office for 11 years, holding the title of vice president and assistant general manager for the last four. ESPN.com reported that Eppler was a finalist for the Seattle GM job that went to Dipoto.

A Univeristy of Connecticut grad, Eppler was the Yankees' director of professional scouting from 2006-09 and senior director of professional personnel from 2010-11. In 2009, The New York Times referred to Eppler as general manager Brian Cashman's "most trusted adviser on potential player acquisitions."

Kim Ng

Ng, 46, hasn't been linked to the Phillies' opening yet, and thus, probably should be considered not the favorite, but perhaps as a potential dark horse. Then again, when has a woman ever been considered a front-runner for an open GM job? Ng has long been labeled as the best bet to become baseball's first female GM.

A University of Chicago grad, Ng has spent the last five seasons working in the commissioner's office in New York. She previously worked as the vice president and assistant GM with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ng arrived in LA, from New York, where, at 29, she was hired as an assistant GM for the Yankees.

For what it's worth, MacPhail at least alluded to the possibility of hiring a woman during an in-game interview with Comcast SportsNet's Gregg Murphy last week. When asked about the timing of extending Pete Mackanin as manager before he had even hired a GM, MacPhail said that if "he or she should want to come in and make a managerial change, that's a three- or four-week process" that would cost that incoming GM a good chunk of their offseason.

Perhaps that was MacPhail being politically correct. But Ng surely has a resume worthy of consideration.


On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

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